Even when vying for industry dominance, sometimes a company’s competitors are also its best friends. This is definitely true of Apple (s aapl) and Google (s goog) when it comes to the cloud. I took inventory of the apps on my iPhone and found no less than twenty apps from first- and third-party sources that tapped into various Google web-based services. By contrast, only Apple’s own various MobileMe apps plugged into its cloud offerings. Here’s a rundown of just how dependent Apple’s smartphone is on the services of its current biggest rival.
Google Services via Apps From Google
Seven of the apps I’ve installed to access Google’s cloud-based services come directly from Google itself. When Apple relaxed some of its App Store restrictions (and perhaps thanks to a little help from the FCC), Google brought Google Voice to iOS devices. More recently, Google introduced its official Latitude app, which also took the long way round to the App Store. Lets not forget Google’s new e-book challenger, Google Books, which debuted this month as well. Rounding out the list are Google Mobile, Google Authenticate, Google Earth and Panoramio, which adds up to a considerable direct investment in the iOS platform.
Built-In Google Services Integration
Let’s not forget that the iPhone (and iPad) supports Google right out of the box. Apple has integrated support for many Google cloud-based services. With Mail, Maps, YouTube, Calendar, Contacts and Notes, you can get up and running quickly using your Google credentials. While with Maps, YouTube and Mail, things are fairly straightforward, integrating Contacts, Calendars and Notes is a little more difficult, but the fact remains that support for Google services exists in all of these apps.
Google Services from Everybody Else
Even with all the integration provided by Google and Apple, there’s still plenty of room for third-party developers, too. For access to Google’s Reader service, many have found Reeder to be the best of breed across all iOS devices. If instant messaging is your thing, and you’re looking to use Google Talk, then there’s IM+ Pro and Beejive, among others. For integration with Google Docs, DocsToGo is about as good as it gets. There are even solutions to integrate with your Picasa photo library online (Web Albums), keep the world up to date by posting to your Blogger account (BlogPress), and remind yourself about what needs do be done with Google Tasks (GeoTaskLite).
Granted, Google has more than twenty cloud-based services available today, and has been active in the space for far longer than Apple. One can only hope that Google will continue its commitment to the iOS platform, and not make its services an exclusive platform advantage for Android. At the end of the day, it’s all about revenue, which for Google means search and ad-based revenue, so the company probably isn’t about to ignore what is arguably the most desired and top smartphone platform. But does that excuse Apple dragging its heels on providing competing, better-integrated services of its own available to all its iPhone customers (and not just MobileMe subscribers)? I’m not so sure.
Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):